Collaboration is turning Western Australia into a global green energy hub
Working closely with government, industry and academic partners across Australia and the world, the University of Western Australia (UWA) is helping the state cement its place as a global leader in green energy production.
UWA researchers are conducting critical work that will not only advance global efforts to cut carbon emissions but also boost the state’s competitiveness in the oil and gas sector in the coming decades.
More than that, these efforts are also generating thousands of jobs and propping up the local LNG industry, a key driver of the Western Australian economy.
As the cleanest fossil fuel, LNG is viewed as an excellent green alternative to current energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat global warming. In Western Australia, LNG production has increased substantially over the years, generating sales of over AU$12.7 billion in 2016-17 and accounting for 66 percent of all petroleum sales.
UWA’s work contributes to this.
The Fluid Sciences and Resources research cluster at its Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, for example, combines world-class experimental facilities with comprehensive model development, to better interrogate, risk-profile and understand reservoir performance, sub-sea production and long tiebacks, flow assurance, platform operations and LNG productions.
In its 15 years of operations, the cluster has netted over AU$20 million in research investment, patented nine technologies and developed two spin-off commercialisations.
It has expanded from a one-member team to its current 50 people, each working in collaboration with the university’s vast public-private network of partners.
In total, the cluster’s upstream and downstream technological integrations are worth something like AU$200 million to the state economy. Their activities have also helped unlock new assets such as the Greater Enfield Development project off the coast of Exmouth.
In one of its latest projects, UWA is also developing the world’s first microscale LNG plant for research and education, to be built as part of the new LNG Futures Facility.
With a capacity to produce up to 10 tonnes of LNG per day, the facility will allow LNG firms, contractors, service providers and SMEs to test and refine new technologies at an industrial scale and in a live plant environment.
It will also augment education and training in the energy field at the university, creating a new talent pipeline for the industry in the future. The project is being funded by a AU$10 million state injection, which UWA anticipates will support the creation of some 1,400 jobs and inject over AU$1 billion into the state economy.
Commenting in The West Australian, Centre for Long Subsea Tiebacks Professor Zach Aman said the projects were game-changers for the university and the green energy industry.
“These tools provide world-first training opportunities for WA students in the classroom, while also unlocking new technologies and insights to support our local industry,” Professor Aman said.
“It’s going to be a very interesting decade ahead as we position Perth as a global hub for LNG development. Now that we have built the capacity, we’re keen to bring together new technologies that will unlock future value and jobs for the region.”
He credited collaboration with partners like Woodside and Chevron as critical to UWA’s success, noting that both firms had played integral roles in connecting the classroom with the field.